A cancer specialist at a premier cancer hospital here on Sunday recommended a series of measures to collectively address the menace of growing use of tobacco.
In an advisory on World No Tobacco Day on Sunday, A.K. Dewan, the medical director of the Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Institute & Research Centre (RGCI&RC) here, said the government should take steps to ensure that the color of the cigarette butt is made red.
"Hundred percent pictorial and message warning on cigarette and gutkha
packs and strict inspection at gutkha
manufacturing units are some of the ways that would lead us towards reduction in tobacco use," Dewan said. "We have to address both the pull and push factors. On the push side, we have to create mechanisms to inspect factories churning out millions of gutkha
pouches a day and ensure that they adhere to strictest norms of quality. The fact that you get a pouch for as low as one rupee means quality is being hugely compromised. The debate on pictorial warnings is misplaced. We should have a 100% anti-smoking display and messages on all cigarettes packs. In fact, the butts of the cigarettes too should carry a message and should be red in color to convey continued warning," he added.
Though the government is doing its bit for creating awareness, somehow the desired results are not visible and the rising number of cancer cases being reported in the country bears testimony to this, Dewan said. The recent global burden of cancer 2013 has highlighted that deaths from the disease have gone up by 60% while the incidence of new cases of cancer has increased by 30% per unit of population.
"This is a cause of concern. It is a common knowledge that lifestyle changes and abuse of substances like tobacco could be the key reasons for the rise in the number of cases," he said. "What is good, we have considerably controlled the mortality due to this disease - but only if it is checked in time. I would encourage all to seek medical intervention at the slightest suspicion. Cancer is best detected early to get treated in time," advised Dewan, who also heads the head and neck surgery department at the hospital. "We do have a rule on smoking in public places but it is flouted recklessly. We may consider creating a pool of civil wardens who can be authorized to fine those who smoke or chew and spit in public," he said.